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Ministry of Energy and Mines

Geological Survey Branch

Questions About Rockhounding ...................................................1
What is a Rockhound? ...........................................................1
Who can be a Rockhound?.....................................................1
Why be a Rockhound? ...........................................................1
Where to be a Rockhound? ....................................................1

Rockhounding Is Fun!..................................................................2
Eight Ways to Make Rockhounding Fun ........................................3
Rockhounding is Fun...
1...if you know what to take ..................................................3
2...if you know where to look ................................................5
3...if you can take your treasures home..................................6
4...if you know what you found..............................................7
5...if you can remember where you found your specimens .......8
6...if you know how minerals form .........................................9
7...if you know what rocks to look at ...................................10
8...if you are not in the hospital...........................................12

Sources of Information..............................................................14
Rock and Mineral Identification............................................14
Books of Particular Interest.................................................14
Selected Publications ..........................................................15
Provincial and Federal Government Organizations..................15

Glossary of Geological Terms ....................................................19


What is a Rockhound?
A rockhound is defined as an amateur mineralogist, but really its
someone who enjoys collecting interesting rocks and minerals. The
term rockhound includes people who casually pick up something that
catches their eye and serious collectors who enjoy rock and mineral
samples at rock and gem shows around the country.

Who can be a Rockhound?

Anyone! If youve ever picked up an interesting-looking rock on
a walk or at the beach, then you have already begun!

Why be a Rockhound?
Because its neat to build a collection of minerals and learn what
they are and what they can tell us about the history of the earth
and the creatures that have lived on it. A perfectly formed crystal is a
beautiful thing, and there is always the possibility that you will make
an important discovery that may end up on display in your local
museum. Normally though, youll be able to accumulate a collection
that will draw the interest of all your friends.

Where to be a Rockhound?
British Columbia is a great hunting ground for the collector. The
geological forces which shaped our province also created many
ideal settings for the formation of fascinating and valuable minerals.

Rockhounding is an activity that anyone can enjoy. Rocks are
everywhere and you dont need much in the way of equipment to
get started. Therefore, any family outing can easily be turned into a
rockhounding expedition. Alternatively, rockhounding can be the
focus of major wilderness hiking trips.
Once you start learning about rocks and minerals, you will be amazed
at how interested other people are in what you can tell them. Everyone
has an interest in the earth and a rockhound has the advantage of being
able to satisfy some of that natural curiosity. Rockhounding can also
lead into lapidary (the cutting and polishing of rocks and minerals) and
jewellery making or perhaps into the scientific fields of geology, such
as paleontology, mineralogy and petrology.
Its very satisfying to organize, catalogue, label and display specimens
youve collected and identified yourself. Your collection will be
unique and will continually grow and change as you go on collecting
expeditions or trade samples with friends and other collectors.


Rockhounding is fun if you know what to take

Of course this will depend on how seriously you pursue your
hobby. Obviously, if you are planning a three day hiking trip to a
remote site, you will need all the gear necessary for such an undertaking.
However, for an afternoons collecting close to home you can get by
with much less.
Here are some of the basic items you will need to get started:


geologists pick or a masons hammer

(not a regular claw hammer as this might
chip when used on rocks)
1/2 inch and 1 inch size
day pack:
to carry tools, specimens and lunch
plastic bags:
to hold samples
to wrap samples. Fragile samples can be
wrapped in toilet paper or paper towels and
small samples can be stored in egg cartons.
safety glasses:
goggle-type are best, but some plastic
sunglasses can double as safety glasses
notebook, pencils and marking pen
appropriate clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes or boots

You may also want to consider taking some of the following items along:

hand lens:

can be carried on a string around the neck

and is invaluable for looking at details
some rocks can have sharp edges
if you are going in or near quarries, steep
banks or cliffs
extra tools:
sledgehammer, wedges, screwdriver,
gardening tools, pry bar, rake and screen,
pointed shovel
extra maps:
detailed maps of geology, topography, etc.
if you are offroad, this will help fix your
position on a topographical map
survival kit:
the same kit as you would carry for an
extended hike
map and compass: if you are venturing off the road or trail
geological guidebooks and geological maps
mineral and rock identification kit(see pages 7 and 24)

Rockhounding is fun if you know where to look

Geologically, British Columbia is very diverse. This is because its
actually made up of a lot of micro-continents that have become welded
onto the edge of North America over hundreds of millions of years.
This also partially explains the provinces ruggedness. Because of the
diversity of rock, the potential for mineral occurrences in British
Columbia is immense. Because of the ruggedness, much of the
province has not been adequately mapped or prospected. Thus,
British Columbia is a frontier for Rockhounds with countless exciting
sites waiting to be discovered.
The potential for mineral and rock collecting exists anywhere that
rocks are exposed. Rocks commonly outcrop along steep hillsides,
in gullies, river and stream beds, road cuts, building excavations and
quarries. Even where there is no solid rock, minerals may be picked
up from debris slopes, gravel deposits (river gravels and glacial
deposits), old mine dumps, beaches (lakes and the ocean), and arid
areas such as dried lake beds.
If youre collecting on private land make sure you have the owners
permission. If youre going on public land check to see if you need a
permit. Disturb things as little as possible. Close gates behind you, do
not interfere with livestock and fill in any large excavations you make.


Rockhounding is fun
if you can take your treasures home
The easiest specimens to find are the ones that have already weathered
out of the rock. Always look around on the ground to see whats there,
it can sometimes save you a lot of hammering.
Many good samples will not be as easy to obtain and you will have to
dig them out of the rock. Never try to pry your sample directly out of
the rock, its much better to take some of the surrounding rock as
well. This will protect the mineral and allow you more flexibility in
designing your displays.
Use the natural planes of weakness in the rock. Look for cracks and
drive in a wedge or chisel. Work around the sample, but not too close
or it might fracture. Take more rather than less, you can always remove
the excess later. Be patient, the mineral has probably been in the rock
for millions of years; it might take a while for you to get it out.

Rockhounding is fun if you know what you found

Different minerals have different properties and these can be used to
identify them. Often you will collect a mineral without knowing what
it is. Identification will have to wait until you get home and can study
it at leisure. But, the more minerals you collect, the better you will
become at identifying them. Some of the properties used to identify
minerals are colour, streak, form, cleavage, lustre, density, hardness,
magnetic response and reaction with acid. There are many books in
your local library which will provide you with the information youll
need to understand and use these properties.
Its easy to put together a small rock and mineral identification kit that
will fit in your pack or pocket (see page 24). You will need:

hand lens:

10 or 15 power with a wide field of view.

As well as being useful for digging into soft
rocks, this is useful for determining hardness.
streak plate:
Minerals often leave a streak when scratched
on a small, white, non-glossy ceramic tile.
This streak can be different from the minerals
colour and is useful in identification.
dilute (5%) muriatic acid (HCl): This should be carried in a
small, leak proof plastic dropper; otherwise
it will rot your clothes!
guide book:
A good mineral identification book, listing the
properties of the minerals you are likely to
find (see the list of books given on page 14).

Rockhounding is fun if you can

remember where you found your specimens
Even the most extraordinary mineral treasure cannot remind you
where you found it. The first step when you find a specimen is to label
and record where it came from. First you need to create a number for it.
This should be systematic, perhaps using your initials, the date and a
locality code. Then you have to mark the number on the sample.
Sometimes this can be done with masking tape and a marker or a
piece of paper can be put in the sample bag. In either case the bag
itself should also be marked.
In your notebook, you should record the same sample number, plus
an identification (if you know it at the time) and the date, location,
and a description of the rock in which you found the mineral.
After you get home, you should clean your specimens. Excess rock
can be carefully chipped off. Old dental tools are good for detailed
work. Dirt can be washed off with soapy water and a toothbrush and
a permanent label attached. A good way to label your minerals is to
paint a small white strip in an inconspicuous place and write your
sample number on the white paint.
The permanent sample number should be written on a card or in a
catalogue along with the information from your field book and whatever else you have been able to find out about the specimen. The
specimen can then be stored in a drawer or displayed for all to see.

Rockhounding is fun
if you know how minerals form
Finding a rock exposure is only the first step in Rockhounding. It
helps to know what kinds of minerals you are likely to find in different
types of rock.
Firstly, minerals need space to grow. The chemical, physical and
temperature conditions might be just right, but if theres no room
for a crystal to grow it wont form. Cavities are found in all rock types.
Sometimes they are related to the rock itself (such as the gas bubbles
which form in a cooling lava, or hollow concretions and nodules in
sediments), or they may be the result of something which happened
after the rock formed (cracks and fissures due to faulting and folding).
Veins and dikes are prime hunting-ground for mineral specimens. Both
form as sheet-like bodies cutting other rocks and commonly contain
larger than normal crystals, or may be composed of a single valuable
mineral. The forces which create veins and dikes may result in cavities
which can later fill with good mineral crystals.

Rockhounding is fun
if you know what rocks to look at
All rock types have the potential to contain interesting mineral
specimens. However, different rocks contain different minerals
and knowing which is which allows you to use geological maps and
to zero in on areas that are likely to be interesting.
Igneous rocks are formed by the crystallization of molten material
(magma) from deep within the earth. If the magma reaches the surface
it cools quickly, forms small crystals and is termed extrusive
(e.g. basalt lava). If the magma does not reach the surface it cools
slowly, forms large crystals and is termed intrusive (e.g. granite).
Pegmatite is a good example of an intrusive igneous rock. It commonly
occurs as dikes associated with granitic rocks and generally consists
of large crystals of quartz, feldspar and biotite, however, some
pegmatites also contain large crystals of tourmaline, beryl, garnet,
spodumene, fluorite and muscovite. Pegmatites occur near Kootenay
Lake, Blue River, Canal Flats, Revelstoke and many other places in
British Columbia.
Basalt is an extrusive igneous rock. It commonly contains cavities
resulting from gas bubbles which were trapped as the rock cooled.
These cavities (amygdules) may contain agate, quartz, amethyst,
chalcedony, calcite and zeolites. When the mineralized cavities weather
out they are called geodes or thunder eggs. Basalts may be easily found
around Kamloops, Princeton, Fort St. James and on Vancouver,
Quadra, Texada and Lasqueti Islands.
Sedimentary rocks are formed by the compaction of sediments such as
sand, gravel or clay, or by chemical precipitation to form rocks such
as chert or travertine.
Chert and jasper are found on Vancouver Island, and around
Keremeos, Kamloops, Ollala, Barriere, Cassier, Kaslo, Fort Fraser and


Williams Lake. Rhodonite is sometimes also found at these locations.

Travertine occurs in limestones near Clinton, Lillooet, North Bend and
Chilliwack. Gypsum forms chemically in sediments and can be found
at Windermere, near Osoyoos and around Fort St. John.
Metamorphic rocks are formed by the alteration of already existing
rocks, either igneous or sedimentary. High pressures and/or
temperatures usually bring about the changes in mineralogy. The
minerals present in metamorphic rocks depend upon the original
rock type.
Metamorphosed ultramafic rocks may alter to serpentinite which
can be associated with jade, soapstone, rhodonite, idocrase and
chalcedony. Jade is found at Cassiar, Kutcho Creek, Dease Lake,
Ogden Mountain and in the Bridge River area.
Marble is metamorphosed of limestone and may contain garnet,
scapolite, tourmaline, epidote and wollastonite. Schists and gneisses
may contain garnet, staurolite, sillimanite, andalusite, kyanite, rutile,
corundum and spinel. Collecting areas include Kinbasket Lake,
Vernon and Kootenay Lake.
These are by no means all the minerals found in the rocks of British
Columbia. Use the publication list on pages 14 and 15 or talk to a
geologist in the B.C. Geological Survey Branch (see page 16) to
discover what can be found in your area.


Rockhounding is fun if you are NOT in the hospital

Old mine sites, quarries and gravel pits are potentially dangerous
places. There can be shafts and holes hidden by vegetation, cliffs and
mined slopes that are unstable and likely to collapse, and complex
underground tunnels filled with poisonous gases. Always be aware of
the possible dangers around you.
Never enter these old workings to collect minerals and always let
someone know where and when youre going on rockhounding
expeditions. You should always collect with a friend!
Even if your surroundings seem safe, LOOK UP!
Are there any loose rocks which your hammering might
bring down?
Watch for rockfalls and never walk directly above or below
another person on a slope.
Check your hammer.
Does the head look like it is about to fly off and injure you or
your buddy?
Always hammer away from yourself.
Are you wearing your safety glasses?
Always carry a first aid kit and learn what to do if you or someone
with you gets hurt.
If youre going into the backcountry, learn how not to get lost, learn
what to do if you DO get lost and learn basic wilderness survival.
Follow obvious geographical features (ridges, creeks, rivers)
which take you in the right direction.
Keep a mental note of landmarks you pass (a fallen tree, the
number of creeks crossed).


Trust your compass.

If possible, talk to someone who has recently been where
you plan to go.
Let someone know where youre going and check in with
them when you are safely back.
Avoid getting wet unnecessarily.
Know how to react to any wild animals you may meet.
Carry emergency gear, dress appropriately, check the weather and
allow enough time for all you want to do.



Rock and mineral identification
The pictures in the following books show exciting examples of each
mineral, but not necessarily the way you will find them. However,
they do list all the properties of each mineral which will help you to
make an accurate identification. Most are available in your local library
or through your bookstore.
A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals
by F.H. Pough (The Peterson Field Guide Series).
The Larousse Guide to Minerals, Rocks and Fossils
by W.R. Hamilton, A.R. Wooley and A.C. Bishop.
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks
and Minerals
by C.W. Chesterman.

Books of particular interest

Rockhounding and Beachcombing on Vancouver Island
by Bill and Julie Hutchison (1975), Tom and Georgie Vaulkhard,
The Rockhound Shop, Victoria, B.C.
Collecting Minerals
by Bill Ince (1977), McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto.
Guide to Rocks and Minerals of the Northwest
by Stan and Chris Leaming (1986), Hancock House, Surrey B.C.
The Agates of North America
by Hugh Leiper (1961), The Lapidary Journal, Del Mar, California.
Treasure Hunting in British Columbia
by Ron Purvis (1971), McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto.
Rock and Mineral Collecting in British Columbia
by S. Leaming (1973), Geological Survey of Canada Paper 72-53.
Rocks and Minerals for the CollectorThe Alaska Highway;
Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Yukon/Alaska Border
by Ann P. Sabina (1973), Geological Survey of Canada Paper 72-32.


Selected publications
Information MotherlodeGeological Source Material for B.C .
This publication lists B.C. Museums, Gem and Lapidary Clubs
and Mineral and Lapidary Dealers. Information Circular 1991-7;
free on request from the B.C. Geological Survey Branch.
Introduction to Prospecting
by E.L. Faulkner, B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and
Petroleum Resources, Paper 1986-4.
The Identification of Common Rocks
by E. Van der Flier-Keller and W.J. McMillan (1987),
B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
Information Circular 1987-5.

Provincial and Federal Government Organizations

The Geological Survey Branch of the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines
and Petroleum Resources is a good resource for anyone interested in
the geology of the province. Their publications are distributed by:
Crown Publications Inc.
546 Yates Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1K8

Phone: (604) 386-4636

Fax: (604) 386-0221

B.C. and Yukon Chamber of Mines

840 West Hastings Street
Phone: (604) 681-5328
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 1C8
Fax: (604) 681-2363
Topographic maps and air photos are available from:
Maps B.C.
Surveys and Resource Mapping Branch
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
1802 Douglas Street
Phone: (604) 387-1441
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4
Fax: (604) 387-3022
The Ministry of Tourism (Victoria) publishes a list of clubs and
dealers in the province. They also publish:
Gem Hunting and Gold Panning
British Columbia Product Guide No. 19 (updated every year)


Rock and Mineral sets are available from the

B.C. Museum of Mining at Britannia Beach

Phone: (604) 896-2233.

General information on the geology in your area may be obtained

from any B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
(MEMPR) Government Regional Geologists office or from the
Geological Survey Branch in Victoria.
MEMPR-Regional Geologist
1652 Quinn Street
Prince George, B.C. V2N 1X3
Phone: (604) 565-6125

MEMPR-Regional Geologist
1113 Baker Street
Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 1A7
Phone: check local listings

MEMPR-Regional Geologist
#200, 2985 Airport Drive
Kamloops, B.C. V2B 7W8
Phone: (604) 828-4566

MEMPR-Regional Geologist
Bag 5000
Smithers, B.C. V0J 2N0
Phone: (604) 847-7391

MEMPR-Regional Geologist
Mineral Titles Branch
Room 301, 865 Hornby Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 2G3
Phone: (604) 660-2672

Geological Survey Branch
5th Floor
1810 Blanshard Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4
Phone: (604) 952-0382


The best way to learn is to join a Rockhounding club if there is one in
your area. The people in these clubs will share the same interests and
will be glad to help you get started. They may even run organized trips
to nearby localities.
Mineral hobby magazines (Canadian Rockhound, Lapidary Journal,
Gems and Minerals) are also good sources of information. Local lapidary
and gem dealers are often collectors themselves and museums have
collections of rocks and minerals to examine.
Publications of the Gem and Mineral Federation of Canada are available
from affiliated clubs and societies or from:
Maxine Lewis (secretary)
3492 Dundas Street
Vancouver, B.C. V5K 1R8
A complete list of affiliated clubs in B.C. can be obtained by writing to:
The Lapidary, Rock and Mineral Society of B.C.
941 Wavertree Road
North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1S4




A translucent, extremely fine-grained variety of quartz

which is characterized by colours arranged in alternating
bands, in irregular clouds or in moss-like forms. Usually
forms in vugs or cavities in volcanic rocks.


A pale purple-to-violet variety of crystalline quartz. The

colour is due to iron compounds.


A gas cavity or vesicle in an igneous rock which is filled with

secondary mineral such as quartz, calcite, chalcedony or
zeolite. An agate pebble could be referred to as an amygdule.


A brown, yellow, green, red or grey mineral which occurs

in thick, nearly square prisms in schists, gneisses and rocks
altered by heat and pressure.

arid area

Areas, such as deserts, which have little or no rainfall.


A general term for dark coloured volcanic rocks composed

chiefly of the minerals plagioclase and clinopyroxene.

basalt lava

Basaltic rocks which are formed as lavas on the earths



A green or bluish-green mineral which includes the varieties

known as emerald, aquamarine, heliodor and golden beryl.


A common and important rock-forming mineral which

belongs to the mica group of minerals. It is generally black
or dark brown and has a characteristic platy form and can
be split into very thin, transparent layers with a fingernail
or sharp knife.


A common rock-forming mineral, CaCO3. It is usually

white or colourless and is very soft. Calcite usually fizzes
in weak hydrochloric acid (muratic acid) and this is a test
used by geologists to see if a mineral is calcite.


Small, usually rounded openings found in volcanic or

sedimentary rocks. Frequently cavities may be filled with
quartz or calcite to form geodes or nodules.


A very fine grained, or cryptocrystalline, type of quartz

which forms concretionary (rounded) masses. Chalcedony
is contained in most chert.


A process by which molecules are deposited out of fluids

to form rocks or minerals. Agates and cherts are commonly
thought of as chemical precipates.



A dark, extremely dense very fine grained, or cryptocrystalline, sedimentary rock consisting dominantly of quartz,
usually the chalcedony variety.


The crystal planes of a mineral along which it tends to



A hard compact mass or aggregate of mineral matter

which is normally rounded but may be very odd shaped.
They are usually formed by chemical precipitation.


A very hard mineral composed of aluminum and oxygen,

Al2O3, which is used as an industrial abrasive. Gem varieties
include ruby and sapphire.


A solid body of a single chemical element or compound

which has a regular shape and which has a surface defined
by flat faces. Quartz, emeralds and diamonds are naturally
occurring minerals which form crystals.

debris slope

This is the material at the base of a high cliff or slope

which is composed of fragments and boulders of the rocks
and minerals which have been weathered from the cliff
face above. May also be referred to as a talus slope.

dried lake bed

Material composed of lake sediments which is left after

lake waters have evaporated or drained off. Salt is a
common mineral which forms in the beds or sediments
of a lake which dries up.


A yellowish-green mineral which commonly occurs in limestones which have been metamorphosed, or altered by heat.


Trenches, adits, pits and other workings created by

prospectors, miners or Rockhounds to dig out interesting
minerals or rocks.


This is a molten rock which is forced out on to the surface

of the earth to cool. An intrusive rock, on the other hand,
is one which cools from a magma stage to a hard rock
somewhere below the earths surface.


Flat or planar features along which the earths crust breaks

and moves. Earthquakes are normally caused by movement
of one rock against another along a fault.



Although most people dont realize it, rocks are quite plastic
over hundreds of thousands of years. The normal movement of the earths crust results in much pressure which in
many cases will fold rocks. Much the same thing happens
if you take a blanket, lay it flat on a floor and then push
one edge towards the other with your handsthe blanket
folds in a short time; rocks do the same over thousands or
millions of years.


Feldspars are the most common, rock-forming minerals

and constitute 60 percent of the earths crust. They
include gem varieties such as labradorite and they
weather over time to produce clays.


A surface or crack in the rocks along which there is a

distinct separation. Fissures commonly result from movements caused by earthquakes. Old fissures are commonly
filled with minerals such as quartz and calcite.


A transparent to translucent, relatively soft, mineral found in

many different colours. It is commonly found in association
with ores of lead, tin and zinc metals and it may occur in
large enough masses to be carved of ornamental objects.


Garnet is a name for a group of very similar minerals,

including varieties known as almandine, andradite. It is
usually red or orange in colour and is commonly used as an
abrasive. Large garnets, particularly dark red ones, may be
cut as semi-precious stones; a variety called pyrope is a
beautiful mauve to purple colour and is commonly
associated with diamond deposits.


Any rough natural material that can be fashioned into a


geode or
thunder eggs

A hollow, or partially hollow, rounded body. They are

normally found in limestones and are characterized by an
outer layer of dense chalcedony and an internal cavity which
may be partly or wholly filled with inward-projecting

Survey Branch

A part of the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines

and Petroleum Resources which carries out geological
mapping and scientific research. Information collected
by the geologists who work for the branch is used for
environmental, land-use and mineral development activities
in the province.



The study of the earth and planets, the materials of which

they are made, the processes that act on these materials,
the products formed, and the history of the planet and its
life forms.

glacial deposits

Material which was laid down as sediments or debris by

glaciers. This normally includes gravels and sands.


A banded, or foliated, rock formed by heat and pressure.


A term loosely applied to any light-coloured, coarse grained

plutonic rock containing quartz, as a major component,
with feldspar and dark minerals. Plutonic rocks are those
which cool beneath the earths surface over a long period
of time and which therefore tend to be composed of coarse
sized mineral crystals.


Depressions formed in the landscape by streams and

creeks eroding soils, gravels and surficial sediments.


The commonest sulphate mineral, CaSO4.2H2O. Frequently

associated with halite (salt) and anhydrite in evaporites
(sediments formed by evaporation of water). Gypsum is
very soft, white or colourless but commonly has grey, red
or brown tints. It is used to make plaster of paris.


Idocrase, or vesuvianite, is a brown, green or yellow

mineral found in limestones which have been baked
by hot intrusive rocks. Also known as California Jade.

igneous rocks

Rocks which are formed by molten magma either at or

below the earths surface.


Rocks which intrude or cut across other rocks. They

normally intrude these other rocks as molten magma
and then cool to form volcanic or plutonic rocks.


A hard, extremely tough, gemstone consisting of the

pyroxene mineral jadeite, or the amphibole mineral
nephrite. May range in colour from dark-to-deep green
to a dull or greenish white. It takes an excellent polish and
is used for jewelry and carved articles. California Jade is a
compact form of vesuvianite.


A variety of chert associated with iron ores. Characteristically

red but yellow, green, brown and black varieties are known.


A blue or light green mineral which occurs in long, thin,

bladed crystals in schists, gneisses and granite pegmatites.



Hot, molten rock which has been forced out upon the
surface of the earth and which normally flows like
molasses downhill .


A sedimentary rock consisting chiefly of calcium carbonate.

Limestones are formed by a variety of processes. Most
notably they are created by the organisms which build
coral reefs in relatively shallow ocean waters.


The reflection of light from the surface of a mineral

described by its quality and intensity. Terms such as metallic
or resinous, bright or dull may be used to describe the lustre
of a mineral.


Rocks which are molten liquid due to high heat and



A metamorphosed limestone in which the calcium carbonate

has become crystallized and will polish well.


Rocks which are changed by pressure, temperature or

chemicals to form new types of rocks. This normally
means that the minerals which compose one rock type
are recrystallized to form new minerals.


A small, independent group of rocks which may be

transported and welded onto a larger continent. British
Columbia is composed of many micro-continents which
have been attached to the western edge of North America.
Modern-day examples could be Vancouver Island or the
Queen Charlottes which are being transported towards
the mainland and (in several million years) will actually
become part of it.

mine dump

The waste rock, or gangue, left over from a mining

operation. Usually the ore, or mineral of value, is extracted
from the rocks and the waste is piled up as a mine dump,
or tailings.


A geologist who specializes in the study of minerals.


The study of rock forming minerals.


A naturally occurring, inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical
composition, crystal structure, and physical properties.

muriatic acid

This is a common term for hydrochloric acid.


A member of the mica family of minerals. It is similar to




A fragment of a coarse-grained igneous rock which is

enclosed within another extrusive or intrusive igneous rock.


A geologists term for the area in which rocks are exposed

at the earths surface.


The study of life and its environments in past geologic time

based on fossil plants and animals.


Very coarse grained plutonic rock similar to granite in

chemistry but characterized by very large mineral crystals.
Some pegmatites have feldspar, quartz or other mineral
crystals up to a metre or more in size.


A branch of geology which deals with the origin,

occurrence, structure, and history of rocks.


The characteristics of rocks or minerals by which they

may be identified.


The process or activity by which a geologist or prospector

examines and evaluates an area for valuable minerals.

pry bar

A crow-bar which can be used to free minerals from their

host rocks.


An important rock-forming mineral composed of silica.


Rake or pitch is the angle between the horizontal and any

linear feature along the direction of the linear feature.


A pale-red or rose-red mineral of the pyroxenoid group of

minerals. It is commonly used as an ornamental stone and
polishes well.

road cuts

An excavation along or through a hill which is used to

build a road.


A kit composed of the tools and materials needed to

test rocks and minerals to determine their properties.
Typically such a kit would include a knife, a streak-plate,
weak hydrochloric acid, a magnifying lens and a magnet
(see page 7).


A reddish-brown mineral which commonly occurs in

quarts (e.g., rutillated quartz). In large concentrations it
may be an ore of titanium.


A strongly foliated crystalline rock which can be readily

split into flakes or slabs.


A rock which has resulted from the consolidation of loose

sediment that has accumulated in layers. Examples are
sandstone, shale, conglomerate and siltstone.



A group of rock-forming minerals which have a greasy or

silky luster, a soapy feel and which are usually dark green
to black in colour.


A mineral which occurs in long, slender needle-like crystals.


A metamorphic rock composed essentially of talc which is

used extensively for carvings and jewellery.


A very hard, gemstone. Varies widely in colour from

colourless, to purple-red, green and black.


A white-to-green prismatic mineral which may occur as

very large crystals in pegmatites.


A brown-to-black mineral crystal. Twinned crystals are

common and form the shape of a stubby cross.


The characteristic colour a mineral leaves when rubbed

across a streak plate (a streak-plate is a white, non-glossy,
ceramic tile).


A map of an area showing the hills and valleys by using

topographic contour lines. It usually also contains much
information on roads, rivers, towns and other features you
may come across in a given area.


The general shape of the surface of the earth, particularly

used to define to the shape of the hills and valleys.


A dark brown-to-black mineral which occurs as 3, 6 or 9sided, elongated prisms. The prisms are characteristically
striated along the long axis of the crystals.


A dense, finely crystalline limestone which may be white,

tan or cream in colour. Usually formed around hot springs
or in limestone caves. A less compact variety is called tufa.


A thin, sheet-like fracture in a rock which is filled with

secondary minerals such as quartz or calcite.


A metamorphic mineral found in altered limestones.


A large group of white or colourless hydrous aluminosilicate

minerals. Commonly fill cavities in basalt lavas.